Author Topic: Stevia - Is It Paleo?  (Read 12048 times)

Rolfdevinci

  • Guest
Stevia - Is It Paleo?
« on: April 02, 2010, 04:04:57 AM »
 A plant based(leaf)sweetener from South America from the sunflower family. Currently making inroads hereabouts(NA) and now in health food stores but close to becoming mainstream.

 I have never had a sweet tooth but occasionally with have some(locally produced) unpasturized honey every once in awhile as a treat. That said I stumbled upon a vitamin/sport drink recently sweetened with Stevia which seemed to be an alternative to the sugar laden monsters currently on the shelves.

 Opinions?

Offline Warren Dew

  • Global Moderator
  • General
  • ****
  • Posts: 5317
  • Karma: 356
    • View Profile
Re: Stevia - Is It Paleo?
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2010, 05:16:34 AM »
The general consensus here has been that stevia is nonpaleo.

A vitamin/sport drink is necessarily going to be nonpaleo.  I think the general consensus is to drink water and get calories from food.  That said, most of us don't do endurance sports.


confoundit

  • Guest
Re: Stevia - Is It Paleo?
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2010, 07:57:17 AM »
Stevia is actually banned in many countries in Europe.  Canada hasn't allowed it in food products yet.  It's available at health food stores though.  I find it has a funny taste to it.  Often the marketed products by Pepsi and whatnot that have stevia in them have maltodextrin as well.  It gives me migraines similar to what splenda or sucralose do.  It is a highly processed product so....I'd consider it non paleo and stick with honey as a special treat now and then.

Offline DavidG

  • Private
  • *
  • Posts: 17
  • Karma: 2
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Stevia - Is It Paleo?
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2010, 11:01:16 AM »
Stevia is extracted from a leaf.  Leaves are generally paleo.

The fact that stevia is banned in many countries in Europe or in Canada isn't really a good indicator of anything in my book.  Saccharin is banned in Canada because of a 1977 study using lab rats that has since been invalidated.  Samurai swords are banned in the U.K., except in special circumstances, because they are occasionally used as assault weapons.

A few studies have found stevia to have mutagenic or genotoxic effects, but the majority have not.  Furthermore, the amount of stevia you would be consuming is miniscule, as it is 250-300 times sweeter than sucrose.  (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18556105)

If you look hard enough into anything, you can probably find some negative side effects.  Much of the produce we eat has naturally occurring toxins, but, frankly, the doses are low enough that it is irrelevant.  On the other hand, some studies have found stevia to have beneficial effects, such as improving insulin sensitivity.  The Guarani Indians of South America use it as a sweetener and for medicinal purposes.

I use stevia, because after some research, it appears to be the safest and best non-sugar sweetener available.  Our ancestors would have used whatever plants they could find for medicine.  If you're going to put off stevia because it might have some harmful effects, then I think you have to use the same degree of precaution on all the other obscure compounds found in the foods we eat everyday, which would rule out most of what we eat.

By the way, the brand I use is Sun Crystals.  It contains one gram of sugar per packet, but this is mainly just filler for the stevia.  Each packet has the sweetness of two teaspoons of sugar.  I don't mind having a single gram of sucrose.  It's also one of the better ones in terms of taste.

I don't mind if not everyone considers stevia to be paleo, but I think the issue is non-canonical; in other words, I think you're free to decide for yourself.

Rolfdevinci

  • Guest
Re: Stevia - Is It Paleo?
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2010, 11:01:33 AM »
yeah...figured as much. Being sugar free for me is easy but finding a sports drink replacement not loaded with sugars(both real and fake) is difficult.

Water is fine for shorter efforts but on longer competitive rides(especially in hot weather) I like to have something else. Oh well.....100% fruit juices diluted with water is sounding better by the post. ;)

Geo


confoundit

  • Guest
Re: Stevia - Is It Paleo?
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2010, 11:26:20 AM »
I agree...for those who are training hard....have 100 % fruit juice.  I know Wlfdg has apple juice I believe after a hard training session.

I agree if you are going to hike into the bush and find a stevia plant, rip the leaves off and either chew on them like that or steep them in a tea or tincture.  Go for it!  That I would agree is paleo to the native peoples where that plant grows.

This is the whole problem with the vitamin, supplement industry!!  They find one good ingredient in a food and extract it and then they can bottle it and put a price tag on it.  But how do we know that the food as it is in it's whole food and the other unknown compounds in it isn't what's making it so beneficial for us?!!  Omega 3 is like this.  Salmon as a whole food is good, I am not so sure that eating omega 3 enriched yogurt gives you the same benefits as eating a whole salmon would.  The sweet part of stevia is the new sugar.  It's easy to market because people are craving unprocessed food and chlorinated sugar doesn't sound as appealing (sucralose). 

What I don't agree is paleo, are fields of stevia plants growing and then being mowed down.  Put into a chemical processing plant to extract the sweet part of it and then refine it into a white powder and add other sweetener to make it palatable and then market it as healthy.  The stevia industry is up and coming and is fast approaching the mafia status the sugar industry is now.  My hubby's cousin is an entrepeneur who just bought a stevia plant in peru.  it's big business don't kid yourself.  Anything that can make a ton of money in a short amount of time isn't worth it in my mind.  Why?  Because big business isn't concerned with your health.  It's too expensive and they don't make any money.

Yes this is my opinion and fanatical paleo but whatever, I like it that way.

Offline Warren Dew

  • Global Moderator
  • General
  • ****
  • Posts: 5317
  • Karma: 356
    • View Profile
Re: Stevia - Is It Paleo?
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2010, 01:44:49 PM »
Stevia is extracted from a leaf.  Leaves are generally paleo.

Industrial extracts, on the other hand, are categorically nonpaleo.  Refined sugar isn't paleo just because stems are vegetables.

I agree if you are going to hike into the bush and find a stevia plant, rip the leaves off and either chew on them like that or steep them in a tea or tincture.  Go for it!  That I would agree is paleo to the native peoples where that plant grows.

Yes.  And heck, if you want to chew on a chunk of sugar cane, go for that, too.

But eat the foods in their whole form, not in extracts.  Paleo is not about finding a sweetener so you can approximate a nonpaleo lifestyle as closely as you can.  It's about getting to the point where you can do without sweeteners.

Offline Warren Dew

  • Global Moderator
  • General
  • ****
  • Posts: 5317
  • Karma: 356
    • View Profile
Re: Stevia - Is It Paleo?
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2010, 01:47:59 PM »
Water is fine for shorter efforts but on longer competitive rides(especially in hot weather) I like to have something else. Oh well.....100% fruit juices diluted with water is sounding better by the post. ;)

That's probably your best bet.  Is eating whole fruit on long rides is a bad idea?

Offline DavidG

  • Private
  • *
  • Posts: 17
  • Karma: 2
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Stevia - Is It Paleo?
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2010, 08:42:40 AM »
Industrial extracts, on the other hand, are categorically nonpaleo.  Refined sugar isn't paleo just because stems are vegetables.

I agree if you are going to hike into the bush and find a stevia plant, rip the leaves off and either chew on them like that or steep them in a tea or tincture.  Go for it!  That I would agree is paleo to the native peoples where that plant grows.

Yes.  And heck, if you want to chew on a chunk of sugar cane, go for that, too.

But eat the foods in their whole form, not in extracts.  Paleo is not about finding a sweetener so you can approximate a nonpaleo lifestyle as closely as you can.  It's about getting to the point where you can do without sweeteners.

I guess I just don't see the harm in it.  The beneficial effects that I mentioned are not pertinent to the whole leaf (except in native use) because the studies involve the isolated compounds, not tinctures.  I think if you're just having a packet a day of stevia sweetener, the amount of those compounds you're getting is not much more than what you would get from boiling the leaves.

We know refined sugar is bad, at least in excess.  There's no convincing evidence (that I know of) that stevioside or rebaudioside are harmful, except in extremely high doses.

My reason for using stevia is not so that I can approximate a non-paleo lifestyle as closely as possible.  I'm trying to approximate a paleo lifestyle as closely as possible.  I can't live exactly like a hunter-gatherer, but I know that stevia is at least better than the alternatives.

The stevia industry is up and coming and is fast approaching the mafia status the sugar industry is now.  My hubby's cousin is an entrepeneur who just bought a stevia plant in peru.  it's big business don't kid yourself.  Anything that can make a ton of money in a short amount of time isn't worth it in my mind.  Why?  Because big business isn't concerned with your health.  It's too expensive and they don't make any money.

Yes this is my opinion and fanatical paleo but whatever, I like it that way.

I wouldn't exactly compare the sugar industry to the mafia.  I'm sure stevia is big business; when you're dealing with international trade you almost have to have big business, at least as an intermediary.  But again, I can't avoid everything just because it has "big business" interests.  Besides, what does it cost, like four bucks for sixty packets?  I'm not breaking the bank to get this stuff.

If you like a strict interpretation of the paleo lifestyle, that's fine.  But I'm not a purist, and I'm not worried about my daily intake of a few milligrams of stevia extract.

Offline Wlfdg

  • Global Moderator
  • General
  • ****
  • Posts: 1921
  • Karma: 164
  • Rhabdo - Catch it at a Cro$$fit today
    • Yahoo Instant Messenger - split.therapy
    • View Profile
Re: Stevia - Is It Paleo?
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2010, 09:28:47 AM »
Water is fine for shorter efforts but on longer competitive rides(especially in hot weather) I like to have something else. Oh well.....100% fruit juices diluted with water is sounding better by the post. ;)

That's probably your best bet.  Is eating whole fruit on long rides is a bad idea?
It's very inconvenient and inefficient. Even bananas can be difficult to peel and eat while pedaling, especially in a peloton or traffic.

Juices have little to no delay in absorption and assimilation. Fruit, of course, has to be broken down.

Rolfdevinci

  • Guest
Re: Stevia - Is It Paleo?
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2010, 03:27:02 AM »
Managed to get in a couple 50km training rides this weekend with the second one bordering on a race pace effort. The applejuice/water mixture worked fine. :)

Very interesting discussion about Stevia......thanks!It`s nice to get opposing views.
Geo





confoundit

  • Guest
Re: Stevia - Is It Paleo?
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2010, 06:51:57 AM »


The stevia industry is up and coming and is fast approaching the mafia status the sugar industry is now.  My hubby's cousin is an entrepeneur who just bought a stevia plant in peru.  it's big business don't kid yourself.  Anything that can make a ton of money in a short amount of time isn't worth it in my mind.  Why?  Because big business isn't concerned with your health.  It's too expensive and they don't make any money.

Yes this is my opinion and fanatical paleo but whatever, I like it that way.

I wouldn't exactly compare the sugar industry to the mafia.  I'm sure stevia is big business; when you're dealing with international trade you almost have to have big business, at least as an intermediary.  But again, I can't avoid everything just because it has "big business" interests.  Besides, what does it cost, like four bucks for sixty packets?  I'm not breaking the bank to get this stuff.

If you like a strict interpretation of the paleo lifestyle, that's fine.  But I'm not a purist, and I'm not worried about my daily intake of a few milligrams of stevia extract.
[/quote]

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/stevia-is-sweet-but-is-it-safe/article1333389/

Offline Kveldulf

  • Private
  • *
  • Posts: 6
  • Karma: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Stevia - Is It Paleo?
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2010, 02:30:44 AM »
Stevia is a cheap, non-patented alternative to other artificial sweeteners that can be grown by anyone, and can be/is used in it's raw form. Many tea shops even offer the raw leaves, as opposed to the refined product.

Its a nightmare for brands like NutraSweet, which many think is the reason its having such a hard time with the FDA... being treated like a strange new synthetic chemical. Most plants are never subject to such criticism and, according to regulations, shouldn't be.

 I seriously doubt 'big business' has much to do with the positive research and press. The only way it makes money is in it's refined form, otherwise it's basically just a fancy vegetable.

As for paleo, the only criteria I see this failing is the fact that it's a New World plant.

Personally, I have no trouble eating New World plants (or animals), as long as they would be paleo in the Old World. I also don't ban foods based on flavor; I'm cutting out sugars, not sweetness.

All said, I don't really use the stuff, but if you want a clean supply check out Seeds of Change. They sell the seeds and have some growing info.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2010, 02:34:48 AM by Kveldulf »

Offline samjohn

  • Global Moderator
  • General
  • ****
  • Posts: 2554
  • Karma: 151
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Stevia - Is It Paleo?
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2010, 03:50:53 AM »
Some in this thread seem to misunderstand the rationale behind the Paleo diet.

By the way, if looking for a Paleo sports drink, how about this stuff - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut_water



« Last Edit: May 14, 2010, 03:52:57 AM by samjohn »

Offline Warren Dew

  • Global Moderator
  • General
  • ****
  • Posts: 5317
  • Karma: 356
    • View Profile
Re: Stevia - Is It Paleo?
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2010, 07:44:32 AM »
As for paleo, the only criteria I see this failing is the fact that it's a New World plant.

Stevia extract is a refined food, just like sugar.